The north London derby – Major talking points ahead of Arsenal vs Tottenham
With a 3-0 win over Vorskla in the Europa League moving Arsenal’s unbeaten run to 18 games, Unai Emery will now have his first taste of what is expected to be a fiery north London derby on Sunday.
Spurs kept alive their hopes of reaching the Champions League knockout stages with a 1-0 win over Inter Milan at Wembley last night and they have now won six matches in a row in all competitions.
Mauricio Pochettino will also be looking to extend on what has been an impressive record he holds in north London derbies. Losing just one of his seven meetings against Arsenal, they have also lost just once at the Emirates since 2013.
With the battle for a top-four finish the most contested it has been in recent memory and with north London bragging rights on the line, what are the major talking points before Tottenham head to the Emirates this weekend:
Kane looks to carry on his derby record
One man who will be relishing the opportunity to square off against an Arsenal defence who haven’t recorded a clean sheet in over 550 minutes of Premier League football will be Harry Kane.
Finding the net in Tottenham’s 3-1 win over Chelsea last weekend, the England skipper also improved what is becoming a very impressive record in London derbies.
With six top-flight goals to his name already this season, Kane has now netted 25 times in 39 Premier League capital clashes.
Currently, Kane sits joint-sixth on the all-time Premier League table for total goals scored in London derbies alongside former Arsenal skipper Robin van Persie.
He sits 18 adrift of Thierry Henry, who leads the way with 43.
Harry Kane ???????
115 Goals in 166 Games.
Didier Drogba ??
104 Goals in 254 Games.
Fernando Torres ??
85 Goals in 212 Games.
Cristiano Ronaldo ??
84 Goals in 196 Games. pic.twitter.com/qA9kFALzQl
— Football Facts (@FootbalIFact) November 27, 2018
Along with loving a London derby, the 25-year-old also has a proven record when coming up against the Gunners.
The Spurs ace has scored seven goals in eight appearances against Arsenal and will be desperate to net another London derby goal against his side’s fiercest rivals.
Kane has six goals in his last seven games for club and country and Arsenal know just how dangerous he can be.
A return for Mesut Ozil?
Despite tinkering with his tactics and playing three at the back for last weekend’s 2-1 win away at Bournemouth, the former PSG boss is likely to revert to his more accustomed 4-2-3-1.
The question then becomes does Emery reinstall Mesut Ozil to his starting XI?
Despite starting his previous four Premier League matches under the Frenchman, the 30-year-old was an unused substitute on the south coast, a decision that raised plenty of eyebrows.
Unlike the final days of Arsene Wenger’s tenure where Ozil was almost untouchable, Emery has shown that he is not afraid to drop players if they’re not pulling their weight, even if that player is Arsenal’s highest earner.
While Ozil’s three goals have shown signs of a resurge under the French boss, questions over his work rate still hang over him.
Against a Tottenham side that like to start at the back and play a quick counter-attacking style, Arsenal can not afford to have any passengers, particularly in their midfield.
Sunday’s derby could also give an insight into just how highly Emery regards the World Cup winner.
Is Christian Eriksen vs Lucas Torreira the key battle?
Scoring Wednesday’s late winner against Inter Milan and keeping Spurs’ Champions League hopes alive, Tottenham and Pochettino will be looking for Christian Eriksen to be the man who pulls the strings.
Settling for a place on the bench in midweek, the Danish international is likely to reclaim his spot in the number 10 position and will likely be the main provider for Kane.
With four assists to his name this season, no Tottenham player has made more and his creativity in the final third is a huge part of Spurs’ attacking approach.
No midfield player has had more touches or completed more passes for Pochettino’s side and keeping the 26-year-old quiet could be a huge part of Emery’s tactics.
Christian Eriksen has now provided 52 assists in the Premier League, moving ahead of Mesut Özil (51) in the all-time list.
North London rivals. pic.twitter.com/EfM3RF7Wck
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) November 24, 2018
One man who will undoubtedly be keeping a very close eye on Eriksen will be Arsenal’s industrious midfielder Lucas Torreira.
Since moving from Sampdoria over the summer, the Uruguayan international and his tireless work ethic have endeared him to fans at the Emirates.
Cementing his spot in Arsenal’s midfield, Torreira is likely to once again partner Granit Xhaka in front of Sokratis and Shkodran Mustafi.
With no Premier League team covering more distance than the Gunners this season, the 22-year-old has epitomized their midfield tempo.
Nearly averaging two interceptions per game, more than any other midfielder in north London, the £26million man will know he must be at his destructive best on Sunday.
If Torreira can nullify Eriksen’s creativity, it will certainly disrupt Tottenham’s flow and give Arsenal the chance to dominate the midfield battle.
How can Tottenham stop Aubameyang?
While Tottenham have one marksman enjoying another bright start to the season, Arsenal have their own attacking talisman who holds a remarkable goalscoring record.
Scoring the winner against Bournemouth last Sunday, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang now find himself level with Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero at the top of the Premier League goalscoring charts.
Netting seven goals this season and a total of 20 since moving from Borrusia Dortmund back in January, no Premier League striker holds a better minute to goal ratio.
#YoPierre, why don't we watch all 10 of your goals this season so far? ?
5️⃣5️⃣ seconds to enjoy them all
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) November 29, 2018
With Pochettino likely to stick with the Belgium partnership of Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen, the duo who kept a clean sheet against Inter Milan on Wednesday, both must be in constant communication if they intend to stop Aubameyang’s rout.
While the return of his strike partner Alexandre Lacazette may see the Gabon international moved to the left-hand side of Arsenal’s attack, the duo have formed a very impressive partnership and Spurs can not allow the two to get on the same page.
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